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A new generation of spammers is rising up in regions such as Asia Pacific, Japan, and South America, and beginning to outstrip their North American counterparts in junk mail output.

Asia Pacific and South America accounted for 23 percent and 22 percent, respectively, of global spam during October. That's according to a new study on spam by Symantec, published on Monday, which concludes that 87 per cent of email messages are now made up of junk mail. EMEA still accounts for 28 per cent of spam and North America for 20 per cent of this junk mail deluge.

The figures contrast with Symantec's stats from February 2008 when Europe was blamed for 44 per cent of all spam, with a reported 35.1 per cent originating in North America.

Symantec said the availability of high-speed broadband connections in countries such as Japan, South Korea and Brazil partly explains the change in global spamming. Brazil (14 per cent), Vietnam (five per cent) and India (5 per cent) now come second, third and fourth place, respectively, in the league of most spamming country. The US (18 per cent October - down from 25 per cent in September) remains the single biggest source of junk mail, though Brazil will easily overtake it in November if current trends continue.

Amanda Grady, principal analyst at Symantec, explained: "Rising spam levels originating from South America, Asia Pacific and Japan are not altogether surprising when you consider the massive growth of internet connections in these regions."

Spam advertising internet or computer-related goods and services (39 per cent) was the single most common category, followed by general goods spam (17 percent), financial offer spam (15 per cent) and 419 advanced fee fraud spam emails (10 per cent). Symantec's related State of Phishing report found a 45 per cent increase between September and October in non-English phishing sites.

Phishing websites in Italian, French and Spanish remained higher for banking, while phishing attacks in Chinese language prevailed in the e-commerce sector.

Around 30 per cent of phishing URLs were generated using phishing toolkits, evidence of wider use of a dumbed-down approach towards the creation of fraudulent sites that attempts to trick surfers into handing over bank login details to crooks.

More details in Symantec's state of spam report are here (pdf), with the phishing report here (pdf). ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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